We kept it simple, and followed the premise of testosterone boosters: testosterone affects muscle gain, weight loss, and libido, so by increasing the amount of testosterone in the body, we can improve on each of those goals. This meant that we looked for ingredients proven to increase testosterone levels, not ingredients that might increase libido or help build muscle mass independently of testosterone (like having a healthy diet and feeling good about yourself). In addition, we dove deep into the specific ingredient lists of our finalists and cross-checked them against WebMD and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) database to make sure that they did not contain ingredients known to be harmful.
Exercise boosts testosterone in two important ways. First, specific types of exercise actually cause our body to produce more testosterone. We’ll talk more about those in a bit. Second, exercise helps to increase muscle mass and decrease body fat. As we’ve discussed previously, adipose tissue converts testosterone into estrogen. The less fat we get, the more T we have.
^ Butenandt A, Hanisch G (1935). "Umwandlung des Dehydroandrosterons in Androstendiol und Testosterone; ein Weg zur Darstellung des Testosterons aus Cholestrin" [About Testosterone. Conversion of Dehydro-androsterons into androstendiol and testosterone; a way for the structure assignment of testosterone from cholesterol]. Hoppe-Seyler's Z Physiol Chem (in German). 237 (2): 89–97. doi:10.1515/bchm2.1935.237.1-3.89.
There is a negative correlation of testosterone levels with plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) (Glueck et al 1993; Phillips 1993), which is a major prothrombotic factor and known to be associated with progression of atherosclerosis, as well as other prothrombotic factors fibrinogen, α2-antiplasmin and factor VII (Bonithon-Kopp et al 1988; Glueck et al 1993; Phillips 1993; De Pergola et al 1997). There is a positive correlation with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) which is one of the major fibrinolytic agents (Glueck et al 1993). Interventional trials have shown a neutral effect of physiological testosterone replacement on the major clotting factors (Smith et al 2005) but supraphysiological androgen administration can produce a temporary mild pro-coagulant effect (Anderson et al 1995).
We required all of our testosterone boosters to have magnesium, but gave preference to magnesium aspartate, citrate, lactate, and chloride. These forms have been found to be more easily absorbed than magnesium oxide and sulfate. (On the other hand, it didn’t count if the supplement had magnesium stearate, which is used to make pills not stick together.)
Present in much greater levels in men than women, testosterone initiates the development of the male internal and external reproductive organs during foetal development and is essential for the production of sperm in adult life. This hormone also signals the body to make new blood cells, ensures that muscles and bones stay strong during and after puberty and enhances libido both in men and women. Testosterone is linked to many of the changes seen in boys during puberty (including an increase in height, body and pubic hair growth, enlargement of the penis, testes and prostate gland, and changes in sexual and aggressive behaviour). It also regulates the secretion of luteinising hormone and follicle stimulating hormone. To effect these changes, testosterone is often converted into another androgen called dihydrotestosterone.
Fatherhood decreases testosterone levels in men, suggesting that the emotions and behavior tied to decreased testosterone promote paternal care. In humans and other species that utilize allomaternal care, paternal investment in offspring is beneficial to said offspring's survival because it allows the parental dyad to raise multiple children simultaneously. This increases the reproductive fitness of the parents, because their offspring are more likely to survive and reproduce. Paternal care increases offspring survival due to increased access to higher quality food and reduced physical and immunological threats. This is particularly beneficial for humans since offspring are dependent on parents for extended periods of time and mothers have relatively short inter-birth intervals. While extent of paternal care varies between cultures, higher investment in direct child care has been seen to be correlated with lower average testosterone levels as well as temporary fluctuations. For instance, fluctuation in testosterone levels when a child is in distress has been found to be indicative of fathering styles. If a father's testosterone levels decrease in response to hearing their baby cry, it is an indication of empathizing with the baby. This is associated with increased nurturing behavior and better outcomes for the infant.
Osteoporosis refers to pathological loss of bone density and strength. It is an important condition due to its prevalence and association with bone fractures; most commonly of the hip, vertebra and forearm. Men are relatively protected from the development of osteoporosis by a higher peak bone mass compared with women (Campion and Maricic 2003). Furthermore, women lose bone at an accelerated rate immediately following the menopause. Nevertheless, men start to lose bone mass during early adult life and experience an increase in the rate of bone loss with age (Scopacasa et al 2002). Women of a given age have a higher prevalence of osteoporosis in comparison to men but the prevalence increases with age in both sexes. As a result, men have a lower incidence of osteoporotic fractures than women of a given age but the gap between the sexes narrows with advancing age (Chang et al 2004) and there is evidence that hip fractures in men are associated with greater mortality than in women (Campion and Maricic 2003).
Testosterone retains nitrogen and is an essential ingredient in the development and maintenance of muscle mass (Sinha-Hikim et al 2006). With a diminution in testosterone, muscle mass diminishes as does strength. Weakness and fatigue result. A number of studies have demonstrated the ability of testosterone to restore lean body mass (muscle) in hypogonadal men, while at the same time causing a reduction in fat mass (Wang et al 2004). Treatment of hypogonadal men with testosterone results in improvement in overall physical performance as well as strength as assessed by, eg, hand grip power (Page 2005). Because of decreased muscle strength and impaired balance, older hypogonadal men are susceptible to falling and since they may already be osteopenic or osteoporotic as a consequence of hypogonadism, they are at increased risk for fracture as a result of the fall (Szulc et al 2003). Men with low levels of testosterone as in androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer, have a significant decrease in lean body mass and hemoglobin, while at the same time they experience an increase in weight, body fat and body mass index (Smith et al 2002). Treatment of frail hypogonadal men with testosterone, therefore, can result in changes in muscle gene expression, increased muscle mass, improvements in strength, power and endurance and improved physical function.
That there is an association between depression and testosterone concentration seems possible because of the observation that depression may be associated with reduced testosterone concentrations, hypogonadal men may have their symptoms of depression relieved by TRT and that testosterone itself may have anti-depressant properties (Pope et al 2003). The evidence, however, is inconsistent. Seidman and colleagues (2002), for example, found that there was no relationship between testosterone and depression but there was an association of testosterone with dysthymia. McIntyre and colleagues (2006), on the other hand, found that middle-aged men with depression did have a reduction in bio-available testosterone.
Most Americans today are sleep deprived, which may be a contributing factor to declining testosterone levels in men. See, our body makes nearly all the testosterone it needs for the day while we’re sleeping. That increased level of T that we experience at night is one of the reasons we wake up with “Morning Wood.” (If you don’t have Morning Wood on a consistent basis, you might have low T).
Findings that improvements in serum glucose, serum insulin, insulin resistance or glycemic control, in men treated with testosterone are accompanied by reduced measures of central obesity, are in line with other studies showing a specific effect of testosterone in reducing central or visceral obesity (Rebuffe-Scrive et al 1991; Marin, Holmang et al 1992). Furthermore, studies that have shown neutral effects of testosterone on glucose metabolism have not measured (Corrales et al 2004), or shown neutral effects (Lee et al 2005) (Tripathy et al 1998; Bhasin et al 2005) on central obesity. Given the known association of visceral obesity with insulin resistance, it is possible that testosterone treatment of hypogonadal men acts to improve insulin resistance and diabetes through an effect in reducing central obesity. This effect can be explained by the action of testosterone in inhibiting lipoprotein lipase and thereby reducing triglyceride uptake into adipocytes (Sorva et al 1988), an action which seems to occur preferentially in visceral fat (Marin et al 1995; Marin et al 1996). Visceral fat is thought to be more responsive to hormonal changes due to a greater concentration of androgen receptors and increased vascularity compared with subcutaneous fat (Bjorntorp 1996). Further explanation of the links between hypogonadism and obesity is offered by the hypogonadal-obesity-adipocytokine cycle hypothesis (see Figure 1). In this model, increases in body fat lead to increases in aromatase levels, in addition to insulin resistance, adverse lipid profiles and increased leptin levels. Increased action of aromatase in metabolizing testosterone to estrogen, reduces testosterone levels which induces further accumulation of visceral fat. Higher leptin levels and possibly other factors, act at the pituitary to suppress gonadotrophin release and exacerbate hypogonadism (Cohen 1999; Kapoor et al 2005). Leptin has also been shown to reduce testosterone secretion from rodent testes in vitro (Tena-Sempere et al 1999). A full review of the relationship between testosterone, insulin resistance and diabetes can be found elsewhere (Kapoor et al 2005; Jones 2007).
While I do have a pretty manly mustache, I’m not a doctor or a medical expert. I’m a guy with a law degree he’s never used who blogs about manliness. What I’m about to share shouldn’t be taken as a substitute for qualified medical expertise. It’s simply my experience and views on the subject. Before you make any changes in lifestyle or diet, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider. Be smart.
Among my favorite stress management tools is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), a method similar to acupuncture but without the use of needles. EFT is known to eliminate negative behavior and instill a positive mentality. Always bear in mind that your emotional health is strongly linked to your physical health, and you have to pay attention to your negative feelings as much as you do to the foods you eat.
I bought most of the ingredients for my Testosterone Salad at Whole Foods. For those curious, I added up all the ingredients and divided by six (I typically ate six of these salads in a week). The cost per salad was roughly $5. That’s about the price many folks pay every day for a crappy fast food meal. If you’re on a budget, I’m sure you could get the ingredients at Walmart and bring the cost per salad down even more.
Ashwagandha is shown to be effective at reducing cortisol which in turn helps with testosterone production. There are also numerous studies showing the effects on improving testosterone in infertile men (ref 80). If you are using the Aggressive Strength product you don't need to supplement with ashwagandha as it's included in the test booster formula. Likewise if you're using Tian Chi (my daily herb drink).
Testosterone is only one of many factors that influence aggression and the effects of previous experience and environmental stimuli have been found to correlate more strongly. A few studies indicate that the testosterone derivative estradiol (one form of estrogen) might play an important role in male aggression. Studies have also found that testosterone facilitates aggression by modulating vasopressin receptors in the hypothalamus.
There are no studies showing its effects on healthy males, but it has been shown to drastically improve testosterone in infertile males (ref 77). It's also packed full of minerals, so is a great superfood nevertheless. I use the Sunfoods brand. Make sure you buy from a quality brand, as there are a lot of poor shilajit products out there, also some have been shown to be high in heavy metals.
A large number of side-effects have been attributed to testosterone. In our clinical experience, the incidence of significant adverse effects with treatment producing physiological testosterone levels is low, and many side effects attributed to testosterone are mainly relevant to supraphysiological replacement. Some adverse effects are specific to a given mode of delivery and have already been described. Potential adverse effects concerning the prostate have also been discussed and require appropriate monitoring of symptoms, PSA and digital rectal examination. Other tumors which may be androgen responsive include cancer of the breast and primary liver tumors, and these are both contraindications to testosterone treatment
The final two studies looked directly at soy vs testosterone levels. The first looked at introducing consumption of soya flour on testosterone levels. They found that those who ate the Soy flour lowered their T levels during the study (43). And the second study looked at the consumption of soy protein isolates (powder) in healthy men. They found that testosterone levels decreased upon consumption of soy powder (45).
Fenugreek is often found in Indian, Turkish, and Persian cuisine. Multiple studies have found it to improve testosterone levels, and in particular, sexual performance. Scientists at Babu Banarasi Das University and King George’s Medical University in India have found that fenugreek improved testosterone levels. Testosterone levels increased for 90% of the volunteers, sperm morphology (the size and shape of sperm) improved for 14.6%, and more than 50% of volunteers experienced improvements in mental alertness, mood, and libido.
Tribulus terrestris is an ingredient commonly presented as improving testosterone levels, but has not been found to be more effective than a placebo or possess any testosterone increasing properties. WebMD cautions that it interferes with Lithium and diabetes medications, and in general, not enough is known about tribulus terrestris to recommend a dosage for anyone.
Ashwagandha is sometimes included in testosterone supplements because of the hypothesis that it improves fertility. However, we couldn’t find sufficient evidence to support this claim (at best, one study found that ashwagandha might improve cardiorespiratory endurance). WebMD advocates caution when taking this herb, as it may interact with immunosuppressants, sedative medications, and thyroid hormone medications.
An added testosterone benefit of my high fat and balanced protein and carb diet was that it probably helped me lose some body fat (I went from 18% to 12% body fat). Studies show that high fat diets actually contribute to increased body fat loss. And as we discussed earlier, as you lose body fat, your T production ramps up. Virtuous cycle for the win!
Any day that you don’t get 20 minutes of direct sunlight on your skin, you want to supplement with 5,000 IUs of vitamin D3. If you get your blood levels tested and you’re extremely low — below 50 IUs — you typically want to do 5,000 IUs twice a day for three months until you get those numbers up. You can do everything in the world, but if your vitamin D levels aren’t right, your testosterone levels will stay low.
Growth of spermatogenic tissue in testicles, male fertility, penis or clitoris enlargement, increased libido and frequency of erection or clitoral engorgement occurs. Growth of jaw, brow, chin, and nose and remodeling of facial bone contours, in conjunction with human growth hormone occurs. Completion of bone maturation and termination of growth. This occurs indirectly via estradiol metabolites and hence more gradually in men than women. Increased muscle strength and mass, shoulders become broader and rib cage expands, deepening of voice, growth of the Adam's apple. Enlargement of sebaceous glands. This might cause acne, subcutaneous fat in face decreases. Pubic hair extends to thighs and up toward umbilicus, development of facial hair (sideburns, beard, moustache), loss of scalp hair (androgenetic alopecia), increase in chest hair, periareolar hair, perianal hair, leg hair, armpit hair.
Grape seed extract is another ingredient with not enough research to suggest a dosage. Grape seed extract can interact with drugs like “blood thinners, NSAID painkillers (like aspirin, Advil, and Aleve), certain heart medicines, cancer treatments, and others.” If this sounds like you (or if you ever pop an Advil to clear off a headache), you’ll need to speak with a doctor to make sure this supplement is safe to take.
The biggest change I made to my diet was increasing my fat and cholesterol intake. There’s a reason why old school strong men would drink raw eggs — studies have suggested that higher fat and cholesterol consumption results in increased levels of total T; men eating low-fat diets typically have decreased testosterone levels. The emphasis on increasing fat and cholesterol consumption meant I got to eat like Ron Swanson for three months — bacon and eggs and steak was pretty much the staple of my diet.
For people who are worried about low or high testosterone, a doctor may perform a blood test to measure the amount of the hormone in the patient's blood. When doctors find low-T, they may prescribe testosterone therapy, in which the patient takes an artificial version of the hormone. This is available in the following forms: a gel to be applied to the upper arms, shoulders or abdomen daily; a skin patch put on the body or scrotum twice a day; a solution applied to the armpit; injections every two or three weeks; a patch put on the gums twice a day; or implants that last four to six months.
The largest amounts of testosterone (>95%) are produced by the testes in men, while the adrenal glands account for most of the remainder. Testosterone is also synthesized in far smaller total quantities in women by the adrenal glands, thecal cells of the ovaries, and, during pregnancy, by the placenta. In the testes, testosterone is produced by the Leydig cells. The male generative glands also contain Sertoli cells, which require testosterone for spermatogenesis. Like most hormones, testosterone is supplied to target tissues in the blood where much of it is transported bound to a specific plasma protein, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG).
As blood levels of testosterone increase, this feeds back to suppress the production of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone from the hypothalamus which, in turn, suppresses production of luteinising hormone by the pituitary gland. Levels of testosterone begin to fall as a result, so negative feedback decreases and the hypothalamus resumes secretion of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone.